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What’s a day in the life of a home inspector like?

If you are thinking about becoming a home inspector, you probably have tons of questions. One I wish I would have asked before I started is: What’s a day in the life of a home inspector like?

The days I have a full schedule of inspections typically follow the same structure: morning inspection, lunch, afternoon inspection, report writing, sleep. When I have an opening in my schedule I use that time to catch up on my reports or to work on marketing. There are plenty of business related tasks that are always building up on the to-do list. It’s good to have some time to get a few things crossed off.

Daily schedule, hour by hour

Here is what a typical day for me as a home inspector is like:

6:00 Wake up

7:00  Review my other inspectors’ reports from the day before.

8:15 Head out the door to go to first inspection, deepening on how far away the inspection is.

9:00 Start first inspection. Usually takes 3-4 hours and involves time both inside and outside (in all types of weather).  Exterior, garage, roof, interior rooms. I usually wait to do the crawl space until last because its dirty. I don’t want to track any dirt into the house, so I do that part last. It also gives you a chance to see if the pluming drain lines are leaking, after you’ve turned them on and off inside the house. So there’s two reasons. As I’m doing the inspection, I am entering things into my report software on my computer. So you could be inspecting a room and then spending a few minutes entering things on the computer. It’s a combination of inspecting and computer work on site. Of course, I’m taking pictures in the meantime too.

11:30 Meet with the clients for 30 mins to discuss findings, usually outside. I answer any questions. And let them know about any areas of concern I found. They will get all the details in the report later, but I want to give them a heads up about general issues. I don’t walk around with them unless the specifically ask to see something. I do show them some pictures at this point if it’s easier to explain something with an image.

12:00 Noon  Leave first inspection and get lunch

1:30 drive to second inspection

2:00 Start second inspection. Repeat the process from the morning.

5:30 Discuss with clients, same as in the morning.

6:00 Go home or coffee shop or library to work on report. I finish adding in photos and comments that I wasn’t able to get done at the inspections. I proofread them and then send them out electronically. The amount of time this will take depends on the shape of the home. If the house doesn’t have many issues, I can usually get the report mostly done at the inspections. If the house was neglected or has a lot of issues, or is really old, it usually takes another one to two hours to finish. It depends on how many issues there are and how many pictures should be in the report.  Once in a while I get a really bad house that takes much longer to write the report. Luckily that’s the exception and not the rule.

7:30 Review any email and return any calls with questions for me that came in during the day.

If that sounds like a day you’d like to have, you may enjoy this job!

Though the structure of each day is similar, there is a lot of variety. You get to see all types of homes in all parts of town. No two houses are the same, so no two inspections are the same. There are plenty of challenges to figure out during the inspection. For example, the breaker panel is sometimes hard to find, but you have to find it to complete the inspection. It can become like an Easter egg hunt at some points. Plus, you spend some hours on your feet walking around the house, some hours at a computer, and some hours driving. So the days are broken up into different styles of work which is nice when you are working long hours.

There are other things you may need to do in the evenings as well. There are association meetings for professional organizations. Those are a great time to network with other inspectors. It’s nice to have a community of people who can relate to exactly what you go through, day to day. Even if it does make a long day even longer. It’s worth it.

If you don’t have someone in your company who answers the phones and takes care of customer service,  you’ll need to fit that into your schedule too. At lunch and after work you’ll have to call people back and put appointments into your booking software. There are plenty of other bookkeeping tasks too, like making sure people are paying on time.

You also should consider your personal life. If the schedule above doesn’t sound too bad, think about the other things in your life you’ll want to do during that time. If you have kids, when do you get them up for school? When do you pick them up? What will you do if one of them gets sick. Fitting in time for family is very, very challenging.

I hesitate to recommend this job to anyone with small children because it really limits the time you can spend with them. My kids were in high school and college when I started, so they wanted to spend their time with friends and not at home anyways. So it worked out in that way for me, but I wouldn’t have started if they were small. But you also have to do what you have to do to provide for that family. So of course, I urge you to consider what you need and want to do for yourself and your family. But I’m just here to tell you the reality of the job includes long hours. Even if you are home at night writing your reports, you will still need to focus on them. You may like being at home even if you have to keep working. Or it might make it harder knowing your kids are waiting for you in the other room. It all depends on what you want and how you work.

How many hours a week do home inspectors work?

I usually work around 13 hours a day. Six days a week at that pace is around 78 – 80 hours a week. As a business owner, it takes long hours to make sure everything is running smoothly, not only for my clients but also for my employees. If you work as an inspector for someone else’s business, you can expect to work around 50 – 60 hours a week.

As you can see in the schedule above, the days are long. You have to like the work you are doing to make it through a 13 hour day, every day of the week. Take that into consideration as you choose this career. I definitely recommend shadowing someone for a full day, not just an inspection. That way you can get the full experience of what the job holds. There’s more to it than just looking around some houses and filling out a checklist. A lot more.